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Zvi | Israel My Glory, Sept./Oct. 2001

By: Zvi Kalisher

Almost every Jewish home here has a mezuzah nailed to the right doorpost of the front door. A mezuzah is a small receptacle that contains a piece of parchment on which is written Deuteronomy 6:4–9.

These verses begin with the Hebrew words, Shema Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Echad, meaning, “HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE” (Dt. 6:4, Masoretic Text).

This custom of affixing mezuzot (plural of mezuzah) dates back to ancient times and is the Jewish way of obeying God’s commandment to write His Word “upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Dt. 6:9). According to rabbinic tradition, these 22 lines must be handwritten on special parchment, using a special feather quill and special ink. Today you can see mezuzot on most public buildings here. Some people even believe they ward off evil spirits.

Recently I returned home to find three ultra-Orthodox young men standing near my door, waiting for me. So I asked them, “What do you want?”

“You must pay us,” one said. When I asked why, he answered, “We tested the parchment scroll in your mezuzah to see if it was kosher (ritually acceptable). It is our holy duty to do so. And we discovered that it was not kosher. Your mezuzah, therefore, was not acceptable. So we put a new parchment scroll inside, and now you have to pay us.”

“And what if I do not pay you?” I asked. He replied, “We will take down this mezuzah.”

As I looked at them, they seemed to me like three, lost little lambs. “Why did you not ask me if I wanted you to do this?” I asked.

Of course, they were not happy with my reply. They told me that everyone must have a mezuzah. Without one, they said, they will not bless the house.

“I am not waiting for blessing from you but only from God Himself. No one is saved by these mezuzot,” I said. Still they waited for me to pay them. “Do you want to take money from me by force? If you do, you have come to the wrong address. But if you are in need and want something to eat, please come into my home and be my guest.”

“You are the first one who has given us trouble,” one replied. “Of course, you are far away from the faith.”

“No,” I said, correcting him. “I am far away from superstitions and rabbinical commentaries.”

“You have become very interesting to us,” one man said. “Tell us, in whom do you believe?”

I replied, “There is only one God to believe in! Certainly you know this, because many times each day you say, ‘Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Echad—THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.’”

When they came into my home, one man asked me why I do not cover my head as they do.

I told them God is not interested in what is on our heads but in what is in our hearts.

I told them it is written in the Bible, “Thy word have I hidden in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:11) and “Ye Next Issue . . . shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). I told them they must read the book of Psalms with their hearts, not just as a nice history of King David.

“We have spoken with many people,” one said, “and almost all of them have received what we told them except you. You are so obstinate.”

“That is because I am strong in my faith,” I said.

“Who is your rabbi?”

“I take refuge in the Lord, not in man.”

“Do you mean to say you are more important than our rabbis? They are holy men!”

“Yes,” I said, “you think they are holy. But that is only because you are so far away from the truth.”

As we continued to speak, we developed a nice friendship. We began discussing many of the Jewish traditions, their origins, and whether these traditions truly help us. I tried to show them that these traditions do not help people but carry them away from true faith in God.

“You want to know who my rabbi is?” I asked. “I read the Bible and believe what is written in it. And the Lord has filled me with His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is my teacher; and I, in turn, try to teach people who are walking in darkness that the Light is Yeshua Hamashiach, Jesus Christ, our Savior.”

Then they became angry and wanted to know how I could believe in “that man.”

I replied, “Because it is clearly written about Him in the holy Bible. Here you can read what Yeshua has done for us. We must put our faith in Him—not in mezuzot.”

Please pray that these young men will read the Bible and come to know the true Light of the world.

About Zvi Kalisher

Zvi Kalisher is a columnist with The Friends of Israel in Jerusalem.

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